Student loan debt –

This week, the House passed the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act.

Student loan debt nationally is a crisis, reaching $1.5 trillion in 2018.

I have been meeting with many of the universities in our state to discuss their efforts so together we can create important legislative solutions. Many of these universities have implemented ground breaking programs to lessen the burden of student loan debt on their own students, but more must be done.

That is why I was a proud cosponsor of this legislation and was proud to support it on the House floor this week.

The measure requires that institutions of higher education counsel their students on the information, terms, and conditions of their federal loan or grant, not only at the beginning of their academic career, but during each year that they are in school receiving the federal loan or grant.

Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Education to make counseling tools on their website more understandable for potential students, rather than the complicated jargon often used by government agencies.

I believe we can help make an impact on this crisis by helping students more thoroughly understand student loan responsibilities.

I am very glad the legislation passed the House this week and I will continue working to find solutions to address student loan debt.

Twitter’s censorship of conservatives – 

This week, I had the opportunity to question Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, about content moderation, algorithms, undue bias and illegal actions on the platform.

 

Lowering prescription drug prices –

Earlier this year, I told you I introduced legislation to prohibit “gag clause” provisions.

Currently, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) are able to include requirements in contracts that prevent pharmacists from providing advice to their patients on the best and cheapest out-of-pocket alternatives to medications covered under insurance. This is commonly known as a “gag clause.” As a result, patients may be paying more for their prescriptions than is warranted.

I introduced an additional measure this week, the Know the Cost Act, with strong bipartisan support. This legislation prohibits group health plans offered by employers and individual health insurance plans, as well as Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Plans, from restricting a pharmacy’s ability to inform a patient about the lower cost, out-of-pocket price options for their prescription. Additionally, the measure will require notifications to Medicare beneficiaries of the potential outcomes of paying out-of-pocket rather than with insurance.

I am excited to let you know that this bill was approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee and similar legislation is moving through the Senate at this time.Pharmacists must be able to tell patients what is in their best interest and this legislation works to make that happen. Patients need and deserve the most affordable options.

I am grateful for the bipartisan support of this bill and we will continue moving it through the legislative process to help lower prescription drug prices for Americans.

From the Capitol – 
Tuesday, September 4, 2018:  After a great Labor Day weekend, I’m at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus in Savannah to meet with the school’s leadership, including interim President Shelley Nickel, to discuss tuition rate increases and student loan debt.  Georgia Southern has done a great job in this area as they have evolved into the largest comprehensive university in South Georgia.  Next, I head to Savannah Classical Academy, a tuition free public charter school located on Anderson Street in Savannah where their mission is “to provide every child with a classical and academically rigorous education while instilling a commitment to civic virtue and moral character.”

Founded by local businessmen Don Waters and Reed Dulany III in 2013, the school serves students in Savannah/Chatham County and is fully enrolled at 490 students with 1000+ on the waitlist.  After touring the facility and learning more about the academic philosophy and school culture, we have a rendition of the school alma mater sung by an ensemble consisting of freshman and sophomore students.  Afterwards, I head to my Savannah District office where I have a TV interview with Fox 28 news followed by a meeting with Jennifer Bonnett who is the former director of ATDC in Atlanta and now is serving a dual role with the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and the Creative Coast to grow a creative technology eco-system in Savannah.  Next, I head to the airport for a flight to Washington.  Once back at the Capitol, I head to our weekly messaging advisory group with House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) before heading to our weekly Whip Team meeting with Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).  Afterwards, I head to the House Chamber where we have our first vote series of the week.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018:  I’m at the White House early this morning as I assist my good friends Ron and Kristen Bigalke, along with their children, gain access to a tour.  Once back at the Capitol, I head to a members meeting of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee as we meet with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to discuss our hearing this afternoon with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.  Next, I head to our weekly GOP conference meeting where we discuss the legislative agenda for the upcoming week.  Afterwards, I head to an E&C Health Subcommittee hearing on “Opportunities to Improve Health Care.”  A link to my questions can be found here.  Next, we have our weekly staff briefing before I head to the USO care package assembly for spouses of our deployed military service members.

Afterwards, I head to Statuary Hall where I have a live television interview with Fox Business to discuss the upcoming Twitter CEO hearing.  A link to my interview can be found here.  After our first vote series of the day, I head back to Statuary Hall for another television interview on the Twitter hearing, this time with the BBC.  A link to my interview can be found here.  Next, I head to an E&C full Committee hearing on “Twitter: Transparency and Accountability.”  Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, testified before a Senate committee this morning and is now before us this afternoon.  A link to my questions can be found here.  Afterwards, I meet with representatives from MEAG power to discuss their issues with Plant Vogtle nuclear plant near Augusta before heading back to the House Chamber for our second vote series of the day.  I stay in the House Chamber afterwards to pay tribute to long time Georgia pharmacist Joe Mengoni.  A link to my tribute can be found here.

Thursday, September 6, 2018:  This morning I head downtown to the Phoenix Park Hotel for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) Radio Row.  This is the 12th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire/America at the Midterms” event where more than 60 talk radio hosts from across the country broadcast live from Capitol Hill interviewing members of Congress and debating immigration reform.  My first interview is with my good friend Scott James from Valdosta followed by a Facebook Live interview with FAIR staff and finally an interview with John Fredericks on his show that airs throughout Virginia.

Once back at the Capitol, I head to the House Chamber where I do a series of tributes beginning with my good friend and pharmacy mentor Bob Warnock who recently retired, former Liberty County School Superintendent Ed Edwards, Sr., who recently passed, long time Brunswick pastor William T. Ligon, Sr., who recently retired and University of Georgia College of Pharmacy Dean Svein Oie who recently stepped down as Dean.  A link to these tributes can be found here.  Afterwards, I head to an E&C Environment Subcommittee hearing on “Perfluorinated Chemicals in the Environment.”  A link to my questions can be found here.  Next, I head to an E&C Oversight and Investigations (O&I) Subcommittee hearing on “Examining Federal Efforts to Ensure Quality of Care & Resident Safety in Nursing Homes.”  A link to my questions at this hearing can be found here.  Afterwards, I head to the House Chamber for our first vote series of the day and then stay in the Chamber to speak on HR 4606, the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act.  A link to by speech can be found here.  Once back in my office, I meet with representatives from The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to discuss U.S.- Israel relations and then meet with representatives from Step Up Savannah to learn of the fine work they are doing in workforce development.  After recording a welcome video for the National Association of Specialty Pharmacists (NASP) for their annual meeting next week, I head back to the House Chamber for our second vote series of the day.  Later in the evening, I head to the members gym in the Capitol where I do 610 push-ups in 61 minutes to celebrate my 61st birthday today.

Friday, September 7, 2018:  My first meeting this morning is a member level Navy briefing on encroachment of offshore oil and gas.  In the briefing we learn more about how the Navy/DOD makes encroachment determinations, what missions are present and would be affected by expanded oil and gas activities.  Next, I head to an E&C Health Subcommittee markup where we consider 5 bills including legislation that I am sponsoring dealing with gag clauses.  A link to my comments on the gag clause bill and another bill we are considering today, HR 3325, Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act, can be found here.  Afterwards, I head to the House Chamber where I speak on HR 6691, the Community Security and Safety Act.  A link to my speech can be found here.

After our first and only vote series of the day, I head to the Capitol grounds where I speak at the Rally for Angel Moms, a group of mothers who have lost children by crimes committed by illegal immigrants, and explain legislation I am sponsoring requiring the IRS to notify Americans when their Social Security numbers are stolen by illegal immigrants.

 

VOTES IN THE HOUSE THIS WEEK
Click here for this week’s vote sheet in the House.
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